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Deep sea 'monster' that can turn its counterparts into 'parasitic slaves' found washed up on shore

Deep sea 'monster' that can turn its counterparts into 'parasitic slaves' found washed up on shore

The fish are rarely seen by humans as they live at extreme depths

A scary-looking deep sea fish that is rarely seen by humans has washed ashore on a beach in the US.

The Pacific footballfish might resemble a creature from outer space, with its gaping mouth filled with jagged teeth and spiny dorsal fin that glows up, but they actually live a whopping 2,000 to 3,300 feet below the surface of the ocean.

With them living at such depths, it’s rare for them to wash up on beaches - however, for the second time in three years, one has been found at Newport Beach’s Crystal Cove State Park in California.

Oh and this most recent fish just so happened to wash up on Friday 13th. Creepy, eh?

Michelle Horeczko, a senior environmental scientist supervisor with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the Los Angeles Times: “There are only approximately 30 or so specimens that have been collected of this species globally, which makes this find valuable and may add to what is known about their life history.”

A Pacific footballfish washed up on a beach in California.
Crystal Cove State Park

The fish was discovered by a lifeguard before being sent off to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for analysis.

It was then given to the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles.

The female of the species have an unusual dorsal fin that sticks out from the body and has a bioluminescent tip that helps guide the fish while it's swimming in the darkness of extreme depths.

As well as helping it see where it’s going, the light-up part of its fin also attracts prey.

In a post on Facebook, Crystal Cove State Park said: “Only females possess a long stalk on the head with bioluminescent tips used as a lure to entice prey in pitch black water as deep as 3,000 feet!

The fish are rarely seen as they live at depths of up to 3,300 feet.
Crystal Cove State Park

“Their teeth, like pointed shards of glass, are transparent and their large mouth is capable of sucking up and swallowing prey the size of their own body.”

And that isn’t even the most weird thing about them, because the fish have evolved to become ‘sexual parasites’. I think I’ve met a few of them, to be fair.

California Academy of Sciences explains: “Using well-developed olfactory organs, they find and fuse themselves to females, eventually losing their eyes, internal organs, and everything else but the testes.

"The male becomes a permanent appendage that draws nutrition from its female host and serves as an easily accessible source of sperm." Lovely.

Featured Image Credit: Crystal Cove State Park

Topics: Animals, US News